Little Rock’s Local Satirical News Site Dupes Nation With Fake Meteorologist Brawl
The internet has been buzzing over a story about two meteorologists who got into a brawl over differences in opinion of a weather forecast. But is it true?
Of course not, and the site that "reported" the story is actually a local parody news website in Little Rock called the Rock City Times.
Greg Henderson, author of the article and editor-in-chief of the parody site, says this isn't the first time one of his site's stories have gotten the attention from news outlets in other parts of the country.
"We wrote an article back in June about a guy that went and ate 413 Red Lobster biscuits and passed out and went into a coma," shared Henderson. "That one went pretty well internationally."
Henderson started the site in March 2012 with a simple question:
"What happens if we take an Onion or a Colbert Report approach and make it super local," pondered Henderson. "Make it focus on Little Rock and make all the stories about Little Rock and really find a way to poke fun at ourselves, occasionally highlight a few issues."
The concept sells itself.
"It's always funny looking at the news people," Henderson said. "There are always things that people want to poke fun at."
Henderson told 710 KEEL that he has a public relations background, so the site has a naturally newsy feel to it. That news feel makes it feel more realistic compared to the narrative nature that other sites like The Onion employ in their writing.
"I try to drop in several key indicators along the way hoping that people pickup on it," the editor-in-chief said. "They never do."
The indicator in the weatherman story?
"A very early reference that Jeff was getting his mascara done in the middle of it. I try to throw in stuff that is a little bit absurd enough to give a red flag to somebody reading it."
So where did this Anchorman-esque idea come from?
Henderson says it come from the local television market situation in Little Rock. There, Nexstar owns two television stations in town there, KARK and Fox16. They both share facilities, however they have separate news staffs (Nexstar also owns KTAL-TV here in the Shreveport-Texarkana market).
"What if two people started to get into an argument over something," questioned Henderson, leading to the idea for the story.
Henderson is actually friends with Fox16 meteorologist Jeff Baskins. Fake story, real people. But, this was all Henderson's handiwork.
He attributes the popularity of the weatherman story to meteorologists across the country found the story funny and sharing it, some of them actually believing it. But he says that because many of these meteorologists have large followings, their followers may have felt the story is true.
But when reading the story, it is very clear that it is a parody site, with a clear statement stating such at the bottom, and a tagline of "Arkansas' 2nd most unreliable news source" at the top. So, who's the least reliable?
"It's actually been a fun joke around town," answered Henderson, "everyone trying to speculate who number one is. I know in my mind who it is, but I really leave it up to anyone who really wants to take a guess as to who it is."
What may be the funniest thing about the story is who actually did believe the story was true.
A concept that pokes fun at your own city happens to be a local favorite, too.
"Locally, it's been really good. A lot of people have really gotten into it and really embraced it. We have a pretty good local fan base actually."
Do you think any of our local journalists would get into a brawl?